Radically challenging the status quo
An article in TES describes a novel partnership between Bedales and The Key Education Centre – a pupil referral unit in Gosport that caters for children who can’t attend mainstream school.
Authors Leanne Forde-Nassey and Ollie Ward, both of The Key, explain that Bedales invited them to select a group of young people to work with the Outdoor Work team each week to build up vocational skills. In return, the Bedales staff would have access to the unique experiences in trauma-aware practice and behaviour management of the staff at The Key.
Since then, groups of young people from The Key have developed their blacksmithing skills, cooked recipes using ingredients found on the Bedales site and tended to farm animals, among many other experiences – all under the supervision of Bedales staff.
Despite early anxieties about the unknown, and concerns from some of The Key students about Bedales being too ‘posh’, pupils have responded positively - relishing the opportunity to try activities they never knew existed, or had assumed were not for them. Back in the PRU, attendance and engagement have improved markedly, with many parents extolling the effect on their child.
Looking forward, a goal is to increase the amount of collaborative work with pupils from both schools, with a few sessions of joint work proving successful. Most recently, some pupils from The Key worked with Bedales pupils to make and sell pizzas. The money raised will be invested in The Key’s own pizza oven, which will be designed and built as a collaborative project.
Leanne and Ollie explain that this has always been a collaboration of equals. They say: “As staff, we share expertise and learn from each other. The Bedales staff have taken as much from us in terms of professional development as we have from them. Similarly, the young people have all had their eyes opened and their preconceptions challenged, and have made new friends. For all, the status quo has been radically challenged and we have been forced to see things differently.”
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